It is often said that the United States is the fattest country in the world. Is it? Does it depend on how one measures fatness?
The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of US Government officials, and the style, format, coverage, and content are designed to meet their specific requirements. Information is provided by Antarctic Information Program (National Science Foundation), Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (Department of Defense), Bureau of the Census (Department of Commerce), Bureau of Labor Statistics (Department of Labor), Central Intelligence Agency, Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, Defense Intelligence Agency (Department of Defense), Department of Energy, Department of State, Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of the Interior), Maritime Administration (Department of Transportation), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (Department of Defense), Naval Facilities Engineering Command (Department of Defense), Office of Insular Affairs (Department of the Interior), Office of Naval Intelligence (Department of Defense), US Board on Geographic Names (Department of the Interior), US Transportation Command (Department of Defense), Oil & Gas Journal, and other public and private sources.
The World Factbook defines Obesity - adult prevalence rate as follows:
This entry gives the percent of a country's population considered to be obese. Obesity is defined as an adult having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater to or equal to 30.0. BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kg and dividing it by the person's squared height in meters.
For countries where this information is published in the World Factbook, The United States of America is ranked #18 in the world with 33% of the population obese. Notably, some Middle Eastern and small island counties have higher obesity rates.
Rank Country Percentage Date of Info 1 American Samoa* 74.60 2007 2 Nauru 71.10 2008 3 Cook Islands 63.70 2008 4 Tokelau 63.40 2007 5 Tonga 57.60 2008 6 Samoa 54.10 2008 7 Palau 48.90 2008 8 Kiribati 46.00 2008 9 Marshall Islands 45.40 2008 10 Kuwait 42.00 2008 11 Saint Kitts and Nevis 40.70 2008 12 Federated States of Micronesia 40.60 2008 13 The Bahamas 34.70 2008 14 Barbados 34.70 2008 15 Belize 33.70 2008 16 Qatar 33.20 2008 17 Egypt 33.10 2008 18 United States 33.00 2008 19 Saudi Arabia 33.00 2008 20 Bahrain 32.90 2008 21 Czech Republic 32.70 2008 22 United Arab Emirates 32.70 2008 23 Mexico 32.10 2008
*American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the US; administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior.
No, the dubious privilege goes to the small island of Nauru where around 80% of the population are obese (as of 1994).
Obesity in Nauru is a major health concern for the nation. According to Forbes, Nauru is the world's fattest country with 94.5 % of the inhabitants at an unhealthy weight. The obesity rate is roughly 80%. Due to little arable land, much of local diet is processed food imported from elsewhere. Cultural and social ideologies contribute to this as well, obesity is seen as sign of wealth and power. The nation's children are also known to lead more sedentary lives.
The USA is currently the fattest developed country in the world.
It is possible that when people talk about the US being the fattest country, they are referring only to developed countries. In which case the US currently comes in first place.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently released a report that puts The USA as the most obese developed country, with Australia coming in 5th and Finland coming in 10th.
It's interesting to note that this fluctuates. At one point Australia was ahead of the US in obesity rankings.
Overall, Nauru is currently the country with the highest rate of obesity, as Sklivvz shows in his anwer.
This may be in part to "fattening rituals" which are a part of the Nauru culture.
Fattening rituals were also practised in Nauru where fattening was associated with beauty and fertility. Young women of the chiefly class were the central focus of deliberate fattening, particularly at the time of first menses, such practices continuing past child-bearing into middle age. Some young men also participated in these fattening rituals, as preparation for boxing competitions between districts.